Culture - Elements to Build A Winning Culture
Updated: May 10, 2018
What are the elements that create award-winning cultures within organizations? How do these elements cultivate collaboration and contribute toward high performance and success? These questions are commonly considered when an organization is designing and cultivating its culture. After some research, I began to notice that a key thought seemed to arise when the topic of organizational culture is analyzed - "winning cultures are those that are purposeful in design! They uniquely merge the expectations of the organization with the employee experience weaving together a strategic environment that is fun, permits autonomy, embraces diversity, and promotes creativity; all the while, focusing behaviors and actions toward the fulfillment of the organization's core values, goals, beliefs and objectives".
Let's face it, everyone hates to go to work and repeat the same mundane, boring tasks in robotic fashion void of recognition, vibrancy and appreciation. Lifeless cultures drain the energy out of the workplace. Stressful cultures can lead to the boiling pot effect and procrastinating or bureaucratic cultures can add to employee dissatisfaction and angst. The days of staunch and boring office meetings are fading like an aged leaf after it has fallen to the ground post the autumn winds. Thriving workplaces design cultural environments that recognize and esteem the diverse and unique values and/or contributions of those within the workforce. They are vibrant, relevant and possess innovative resilience that leaves spectators and competitors standing in awe. These cultures possess the "Wow" factor and deliver it, not only to the customer, but to those within the workplace and they do it flawlessly. How would you rank your organization's culture? And, does your culture promote those elements that are most attractive to those within the available workforce and externally to your clients at large?
Organizational culture includes the expectations, experiences, philosophies and core values that contribute to how the organization will function and what behaviors are considered to be in alignment with those cultural elements. Cultural design creates a community within and beyond the organization that seems to resonate authentic, genuine, real and transparent attributes that are most endeared by those with which it interacts. Culture further determines how power will flow and be delegated in the organization, the extent at which freedom in decision making will be permitted, and how collective objectives will be pursued and achieved. The framework for collaboration, team work and creative contributions are all encompassed in a strong cultural design plan.
5 Elements to Consider in Cultural Design:
#1. Define it! Clearly define the culture that is desired. What are your values? What are your expectations? What are your cultural philosophies? How will these defined elements be conveyed to those within the organization and beyond? How will authority be delegated? How will relevance and resilience be factored into the design? How will innovation and creativity be encouraged? How will opportunities for fun, team building and team development be achieved? How will the organization stand out in the marketplace as a choice place to work for the available workforce and a preferred provider to potential customers? Define it, refine it and own it!
#2. Train it! Review your orientation and training programs. How are the elements of your cultural design efforts included in the onboarding process for new hires and utilized as guidance to key leaders within the organization? Hold workshops that include fun and creative elements to promote, convey and cast the vision for the culture. Train it, talk it and live it - put culture to use and make it real. More than words - a way to conduct your business.
#3. Measure it! Create analytical ways to measure, monitor and fine tune your culture. Conduct surveys, gather data and review the information that is collected to unite the words of a cultural definition to the actions that are performed daily within the culture. Measure it, analyze it and mold it purposefully!
#4. Do it! Don't just talk culture - live it everyday and do it! Review policies, procedures and operations to assure culture is ingrained and present within each and every aspect of your organization. Live your values authentically and promote them genuinely within the organization. Be what you designed and represent wholeheartedly those key values, expectations, beliefs and elements with passion, clarity and grit. Bring culture to life. Lift the words from the written forms of expression and give breathe to them with practical and functional expressions of doing and being. To this extent, culture should flow from your heart and from deep within your bones; not become the mere quotation of notes taken from a class.
#5. Reward it! Promote and reward those who most embrace and embody the fullness of the expression of the culture that has been designed and defined. Include incentives and rewards as ways to motivate the cultural design. Assess performance evaluations and other feedback tools to assure cultural elements are included in measuring an employee's level of success. Promote those who represent and ascribe to those core cultural elements that are intrinsic to your organization. Reward it, promote it and celebrate it!
If you are a start-up organization, make designing your culture a key focus as part of your organizational plan and launch. It is always better to purposefully plan in advance than to turn the ship after it has already sailed. If you are an existing organization that is feeling cultural strain, take the time to assess your culture and build within it the elements that you need to redesign or enforce the culture you desire. For assistance in developing a cultural design plan or evaluating/assessing your organization's culture feel free to reach out to our team for assistance. We are here to help build award winning workplaces that deliver award winning products, goods and services. Take charge of your culture and purposefully design a plan.
by Timothy Osborn, Senior Consultant / Founder @ The Osborn Group
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